E. Coli outbreak sparks food safety concerns

Published: Nov. 4, 2015 at 4:09 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2015 at 4:09 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - Recent E. coli cases, linked to Chipotle restaurants in the Pacific Northwest are raising new awareness about the importance of restaurant cleanliness. There are now more than three dozen confirmed cases of people being sickened by E. coli in Washington and Oregon. The popular Mexican grill has closed 43 locations in Seattle and Portland as a result of the outbreak

WSFA 12 News bring you restaurant inspection scores every Thursday but we're taking a closer look at the requirements restaurants must follow to keep their customers healthy.

Restaurants in many states are mandated by the health department to have at least one certified Food Protection Manager, meaning managers and employees have to complete a training so they know how to handle food properly, which keeps you from getting sick.

"The restaurant business is a dangerous business," said Andy Bozeman with Food Safety Training.

Andy Bozeman says avoiding an E. coli outbreak like the one affecting Chipotle restaurants in the Pacific Northwest is simple. "Because it's just very basic things like washing people's hands, the workers, wash their hands, sanitize all the work stations where the meat is being prepared, even though its raw," he said.

Bozeman teaches the online certification Serv-Safe program through Food Safety Training Center.

"Any place that changes food from a non-prepared state to a prepared state, that's whether you're heating up a hot dog or cooking prime rib, the manager that's in charge of that process has to be a Food Protection Manager and has to be Serv- Safe certified or certified by the Food Safety Professionals," said Bozeman.

Bozeman says when you walk into a restaurant you should see a certificate on the wall, there's two on display at Dreamland Barbeque in downtown Montgomery.

"We feel like the public trusts us to take care of them, when they come in to eat, not just great service, great atmosphere great food but nobody wants to get sick from eating," said Dreamland GM Bob Parker.

Dreamland's Parker says he has at least 10 employees Serv-Safe certified and when it comes to food-borne illness, it's all about common sense in his kitchen.

"We wear gloves hair nets, we wash our hands a lot.  We keep the meat and temperatures at certain temperature, we want to stay out of the danger zone which is 40 degrees and 140 degrees, that's where bacteria lives and thrives so we keep our cold food really cold and our hot food really hot," said Parker.

You can get the week's high and low restaurant inspection scores every week here on WSFA 12 News. We also let you know which codes local restaurants have violated. Watch Food for Thought every Thursday night at 10PM on WSFA 12 News.

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